Growing Food Resilience on the Piikani Nation
BROCKET, AB, April 29, 2021 – As climate change continues to worsen over the coming decades, changing temperatures, precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events will also have an increasing impact on food production around the world. Indigenous Peoples living in remote regions and who have a close connect with that land, like the Piikani First Nation in Southern Alberta, are particularly vulnerable.
The Piikani Nation, part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, has already become aware of food security issues, and is starting an initiative to increase their food security. The first part of this initiative is a community Greenhouse Program in partnership with the local school. The greenhouse will have the added benefits of providing hands-on educational experiences for students, and healthy school lunches made with fresh grown produce.
Food security isn’t a future problem
Like many communities in Canada, the Piikani Nation currently imports nearly all their food. However, when the pandemic caused the first shutdown in spring 2020, there was a significant disruption of food deliveries to their community. This created sudden and unexpected food shortages and distribution issues.
At that time, the Piikani Nation was already working on a multi-year initiative in partnership with the Resilience Institute to start addressing current and future climate change impacts for their community. The Resilience Institute is a Canadian charity that focuses on climate change education and research. When the pandemic hit, it was clear now is the time to start developing food security—this wasn’t a future risk but one that was already here.
Sūṗii⸱ṗo’omaaksin – Planting Seeds for the Future
The Greenhouse team, named Sūṗii⸱ṗo’omaaksin (Blackfoot for planting seeds) consists of knowledge holders from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds that are weaving Indigenous and scientific knowledge systems to this vision to fruition. Local and traditional values, together with technical innovations in renewable technology that enables food to be grown in cold and windy climates, in a sustainable way, will increase the Piikani’s Nations food, and cultural resilience.
Leading the way
While remote communities are especially aware of their dependence on food trucks, all the communities in Canada face similar vulnerabilities to the future of our food supply. Developing local initiatives for fresh food production also has many short-term benefits, including health, community, and of course—delicious fresh food grown in a sustainable, and holistic way.
For further information: Media Contact: Laura S. Lynes, The Resilience Institute, [email protected]; Noreen Plain Eagle, Piikani First Nation: [email protected]